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Do Your Visitor Numbers Look Like This?


“Darren, I have been blogging for 6 months and have tried to build traffic through social media, networking and buying reviews. I have attached a screen capture of the last 2 months of traffic (above) where you will see I have some good days in traffic, but it always flat lines days later.

The spikes all come from social bookmarking campaigns, links from other blogs or paid reviews – but my normal days of traffic are no higher than months ago. Help!?”

The above excerpt came from an email from a ProBlogger reader recently who is faced with a problem that many bloggers struggle with.

It’s literally a roller coaster ride – both in terms of traffic numbers but also emotions as you watch with hope your traffic rising on a good day only to see it flatline the next.

Like the blogger above mentions (he wished to remain anonymous) the spikes in traffic can come from any number of sources including:

  • a post being featured on a social bookmarking site
  • a paid review on another blog
  • organic links from other sites
  • being mentioned in mainstream media
  • a seasonal burst of traffic from search engines

Tomorrow I’m going to write a post that gives 20 practical tips on how to combat this spike/flatline trend but today I want to start with one ‘lesson’ for those of you who have traffic charts like the one above. It’s a lesson that our blogging friend above has already learnt.

Getting a Spike in Traffic is only Half the Strategy

If there’s only one thing that I’d like to get across in this post it is that we need stop seeing the sudden burst in traffic as the ultimate goal and to start seeing it as a stepping stone to sustained blog growth.

This is a lesson that some bloggers never seem to learn – so recognizing the problem is actually a breakthrough.

I know the temptation to see the spike as the end result and have fallen for that temptation myself on numerous occasions – however to pop open the champagne to celebrate your good fortune at this point is to miss an incredible opportunity – the opportunity of recruiting a percentage of the readers coming into your blog as regular readers.

How to Build a Sticky Blog

With our first lesson in mind tomorrow I want to move us forward by looking at the concept of making our blogs ‘sticky’ (you can read the next post in this series here).

The word ‘sticky’ might be a strange one to associate with a blog but it’s a good one because it describes the idea of making readers ‘stick’ to your blog beyond their first visit. It’s all about making spikes in traffic have a lasting impact rather than give cause for momentary celebration.

I hope you’ll join me tomorrow when I propose 20 techniques for building a sticky blog.

update – read the next post at 21 Ways to Make Your Blog or Website Sticky (I thought of an extra one to take it to a list of 21 instead of 20).

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Subscribe here to get the next post? I’ve seen a lot of subscribing/newsletter links on your site lately.

    Sometimes getting a site going is like starting and old engine.

  2. “I hope you’ll join me tomorrow when I propose 20 techniques for building a sticky blog.”

    That’s how you build a sticky blog…

  3. I’ve seen you post similar items before Darren. I look forward to your tips, I bet one will be “find the page receiving the traffic, and re-design or re-write that one page to capture the readers, and give them a reason to dive deeper in to your blog.

    I can’t wait to hear the rest!

  4. I’m stuck Darren

    see ya tomorrow

  5. Darren, really wanted to thank you on this website. just started a blog i wanted to for a long time about college life & college admission. i’ve been trying to implement the tips you’ve given and hopefully can make mine successful. it’s small but take a look if you have time out of your busy schedule:


  6. yeah, i’ve been seeing this to my only hope is to gain just 20% of the people who hit the “popular” posts, articles or in my case interviews. to stay for few more and hope they continue to keep coming back.

    So for me right now my stats jump to just under 500 visits then drop backdown to about 70 visits. which gains in size about 20% from each post.

    That’s my current personal goal is to retain 20% of my new visitors.

    however i’m looking forward to reading your next post about this.

  7. Looking at short term statistics somewhat, in the longrun though there’s a definite rise noticable :-).

  8. Cant wait for tomorrow Darren…!

  9. Looking forward to it… “Sticking” around until tomorrow.

  10. I’ve similar stats… but I noticed that after every spike, the search engines send me more traffic. I guess it’s because the link from social media and the overall linking by other blogs in my niche leads to higher rank in Google.

  11. I have this exact same problem. I have been running my financial blog for 5 months now and I still never see over 1,000 visitors per month. I look forward to some of your tips in driving traffic to my site and keeping them because I need it desperately

  12. Love the “Subscribe Here” to get the post. I bet that’s going to be the first lesson… get people to subscribe to your RSS feeds.


  13. I was having great daily visit stats due to some StumbleUpon traffic, but then everything totally flat-lined. But what was weird was that I still had all my subscribers, and even those were gaining in numbers from day to day.

    Since then things have been slowly climbing back up, but the numbers have been really confusing to me.

  14. I’m really looking forward to the next post.

    I have very regular spikes in the middle of the week, and I know why, but I can’t figure out how to capitalize on it more than I already am without devoting my entire blog to that topic.

    I could do a separate niche blog, and have created a WordPress blog to do so. It’s just that I enjoy tying that topic into my current blog.

    Dan –
    I don’t see anything wrong with asking for subscribers. Sometimes readers just don’t think of it at the time. It’s no different than asking for comments when you want to encourage a discussion.

  15. Great post, looking forward to reading more tomorrow.

  16. Even I am facing the same problem. Waiting for your post !

  17. When we were kids, I always used to ask my little sister, “How do you keep a turkey in suspens?” She would inevitably ask, “How?” and I would walk away.

    Who knew it would work on blogs, too?

  18. The spiking thing is driving me nuts. Very discouraging, this series couldn’t have come at a better time! thanks, Dave

  19. Can’t wait to see the next post! Thank god I’m already subscribed, this blog is the best I have ever come across. It is so helpful to creating a blog.

    Now on topic, I suffur the same problem, my blog will get an explosion of traffic one day, then the next will be next to nothing. It scares me sometimes how crazy it gets, it could be from my lack of posting last week. But still when I do post for weeks on end sometimes I notice sudden bursts then back to normal.

    D.F. Rucci

  20. nice tips. waiting for tomorrow

  21. looking forward to it. im guessing you might mention your lead-in to “subscribe to see the next post” perhaps?? ;)

  22. An excellent topic. From my experience, more traffic is not the main problem with most blogs (including my own) and I think you are on the right track with “stickiness”.

    But I think the real problem is one step farther down the track:

    “Most blogs have no purpose.”

    In business, this would be your unique selling proposition, or competitive edge.

    The fact is that most blogs are about the blogger, rather than about the reader.

    Put yourself in the position of a first time visitor to your blog and ask yourself, “What can I get here?” and you’ll understand why your traffic isn’t growing steadily.

    The best blogs have a very clear, and immediately obvious answer to the question for everyone who visits.

  23. Thanks Darren – this post was really useful. I greatly look forward to this week’s posts here (I always do, but this especially).

    You rock!


  24. …makes me want to come back tomorrow. Sticky?!

  25. ahh..this looks familiar..My blog stat looks exactly like that..but thanks to problogger I’m seeing improvement in terms of pageviews and visitors..

    plus a tip from Dannychoo.com..that is people clicks on posts with images ^^ ..

  26. Will I come back tomorrow? Yea, probably.

    Tony Cathey

  27. Stop twitting and start writing! Engines will find the content on your site, once you stumble and twit and friendfeed, there is nothing to bring people to your blog.

    If you took that time instead and put together another post, or improved YOUR blog then you reap the rewards, not someone else.

  28. Very interesting and useful article indeed. I have seen some bloggers that have same problem like above one. But eventually I think that will come on good track after some time.

  29. Darren, I would like to see the blog in question. I will have some tips to give him to increase traffic. Though I have a rather new blog, its traffic is steadily increasing. When you check out a period of a week, you can see that the traffic was more than a similar period in the past, and it is always on the rise. The average traffic!

    The main reason behind this is search engine effect. I am on the SEO and continuously build incoming one way links to my blog. This is mainly due to the fact that I offer good content! And I can get people visiting more often.

    Today is a great day for me as I have just put up a better version of the theme, with errors edited out so that the blog works well with many browsers. I am on the process of checking errors. the W3C validation has been done and it shows 45 errors now. I am in the process of minimizing them to zero.

    Please read this post regarding this : W3C validation and blogger

    I believe this will definitely prove to be a great resource for the other readers, and also an inspiration to get their sites validated.


  30. Thanks for this post. It’s great to see that a start up blog such as mine can get valuable help from your site.

  31. I have similar spikes. I noticed that every time I made a post there was a lot of traffic, then nothing when I don’t. However, the numbers are climbing, which gives me hope.

  32. This was a very poignant article – we’ve been wrestling with this same issue for some time now. Hopefully, some of the tips listed here will help us alleviate that!

    Great post as always!

  33. We all blog towards a common goal: to build community! (For most of the readers here I would imagine there’s a monetary incentive involved; nothing wrong with that).

    But I would imagine that being “sticky” and achieving this end involves the struggle to be consistently interesting. An end achievable only if you speak from a place of sincerity. In other words, just be “you” when you write. Focus on a topic that you enjoy…one that is an expression of you. Focus on that and the rest should take care of itself. Don’t you think?

  34. Your blog is sticky! I can’t wait for your tips!

    Enjoy Bacon!

  35. I can’t wait for that lesson Darren! In fact I think it’s already in my RSS feed lol…

    I too have problems with HUGE spikes, then going back down to normal:

    but relatively speaking my blog now is doing much much better and has matured somewhat in 1 years time. Still have a lot of work to do however… and more problogger posts to read!

  36. Waiting for some useful tips Darren

  37. Well – I think one good way would be to track your users.

    Determine how they come into your site as well as how they leave it.

    Is it due to one of your outbound links or to a related site?

    If it is a related site – what do they offer that you don’t.

    Incentives to hang around your site include ‘related posts’ at the end of whatever post they are reading. Feed the user all of your categories, popular posts etc

    Close? :-)

  38. I badly need these tips as well…Look forward to reading it

  39. Darren, I can’t wait until the next post in this series, I know you will provide some great info….anticipating it.

  40. I know some of my content gets more hits than the rest, so I expect a minor bump when I post about it. But I would like more regular readership. Will tune in tomorrow.

  41. Looking forward to the tips. Would be great to see actual examples of where the lessons have worked… There’s an endless supply of how-tos about blogging – tips, tips, tips – but very few illustrative real-world examples.

  42. I still believe the purpose of the blog has a lot to do with the whole process. Just because we write it does not mean everyone needs or wants to read it.

    I look forward to the series

  43. I have these spikes on one blog that is fairly new, but the overall traffic has been increasing. The one thing to remeber is with every popular post you have you are going to get organic links to it.This one benefit of the spike will help you long term as it builds your blogs authority.

    I totally agree about the subscribers. If I can get 20% of the first time readers( haven’t been able to do that), then I would be happy.

  44. Don’t you feel spikes and their importance may sometimes reflect the same type of spike trends in the media … based on the type of blog you have and the type of post? I love Post Secret, but I don’t go there on a regular basis. The urge to read their site stems from the mood I am in and what I want to read – not whether they belong to a network that I too might belong.
    Just the thoughts from your redhead fan…
    Catherine, the redhead blogger

  45. A few months ago ProBlogger had a regular set of sites offered up for review.

    Why not just do that with this site ?

    We are a set of highly opinionated (informed) people around here.


  46. Looking forward to reading your tips tomorrow :d

  47. Looking forward to make my blog a sticky blog!

    A burst of traffic spike is good, but only for a short term happiness :)

  48. I won’t go to work tomorrow to focus 100% of my life for tomorrow’s article from the master!

  49. I’ll be checking in again tomorrow for this one. I know I can do with some help with getting return visitors to my blogs.

  50. Would having a sticky blog be anything like getting me glued to your post and then you leave me hanging, coming back for more (oh, say for tomorrow’s post)? LOL! I look forward to your suggestions.

    For me personallly, my graph looks somewhat similar but I find that my blog interaction, readership numbers, and loyalty matters as well. More spikes equals more pageviews and that means more $$$ for ads and revenue but that doesn’t always convert to readership or loyalty.

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